On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela raised a clenched fist as he walked out of Victor Verster prison after 27 years of captivity. The struggle he lends to end racial segregation and transform South Africa into a democratic state is hailed, in particular, by Palestinians, who continue to endure an occupation for almost a century. Thousands of Palestinians are incarcerated in Israeli prisons without legal justification. Two million Gazans are enclosed for years within what Human Rights Watch has labelled an “open air prison”, millions of Palestinians separated from their ancestral homes by the Apartheid Wall. And yet in a reflection of Mandela himself, Palestinians are hopeful, and dedicated to the vision that someday their liberation will come, and they will emerge free.
“Let my People Go”, is the central message of the Mandela Kufiya. A biblical quote that branded the struggles of African people against tyranny, and a message from Exodus that is as relevant to the land of Palestine as it was millennia ago. The story of the Palestinian people has become so interconnected with the struggle of African Nations, and similarly, that of African descendants in the Americas and Europe, in standing up to the tyranny of colonialism, slavery, and apartheid, in their efforts to declare themselves as free people.
The Kufiya is a symbolic gesture to a common struggle, a fabric and mantlepiece that shows the united efforts of the colonised and disenfranchised, Pan-African and Palestinian, in telling our story, and bringing justice to our situation. Proceeds will go to support the African-Palestinian community in Jerusalem, to benefit the bright youth of Palestinians of African descent, who have endured, and continue to endure, despite the discrimination and injustice laid on them by the Israeli occupation. In the visionary words of Nelson Mandela himself, “we know too well, that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”. The Mandela African Kufiya is an effort to realise this vision.